Heseltine moves to third snub in monopoly game

BY NIGEL COPE

AND MARY FAGAN

Some of Britain's best-known games such as Monopoly, Cluedo and Subutteo, were at the centre of a regulatory row last night as Michael Heseltine, President of the board of Trade, appeared to deliver a final snub to Sir Bryan Carsberg, the out-going director-general of the Office of Fair Trading, who steps down in May.

At issue is the £50m bid by Hasbro, the US toy giant, to buy Waddingtons Games, the Yorkshire-based toys and games group. Sir Bryan had recommended that the bid be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. Yesterday Mr Heseltine overruled him.

The DTI said: "In making his decision, Mr Heseltine took into account the director-general of Fair Trading's recommendation that the acquisition should be referred to the MMC. In departing from the director-general's recommendation, Mr Heseltine considered on balance that the competition issues raised by the merger were not sufficient to justify a reference."

It is the third time in Sir Bryan's two-year tenure at the OFT that he has found his suggestions overruled by the DTI.

In February 1993 Mr Heseltine delivered two snubs in the same month. One involved the acquisition by GEC of Phillips Infra Red Defence Components. Mr Heseltine also waved through the ultimately unsuccessful attempt by leisure group Airtours to take over its rival, Owners Abroad.

The Government has yet to announce a successor to Sir Bryan, who is leaving to head the International Accounting Standards Committee.

Some observers suggest that the OFT post is regarded as not allowing sufficient powers.

Last week Sir Bryan called for a single competition authority to replace the UK's tripartite structure of the OFT, the Monopolies Commission and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Speaking before the Commons Trade and Industry select committee, Sir Bryan said the authority he envisaged would have the power to investigate cases, grant or refuse clearances or exemptions, and impose fines or other remedies. Companies would be able to appeal against any decision through the courts.

Sir Bryan also said that he saw no reason for ministers to become involved in all the decisions on implementation of MMC reports, as happens in the UK at present, "because most of the issues are not political".

He made clear his frustration at lack of government action not to implement changes in UK competition law. The Government has since 1989 been promising to toughen legislation on anti-restrictive practices. It has also said it will increase the OFT director-general's powers of investigation, but so far nothing concrete has been done.

The deal to buy Waddingtons Games adds Monopoly, Cluedo and Dingbats to Hasbro's porfolio of toys, which includes Action Man, Sindy and My Little Pony. Hasbro is already the world's largest toy company with sales in excess of $3.5bn.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Accounts Payable

£12 - £15 per hour: Cameron Kennedy Recruitment: Excellent opportunity to join...

Technical BA - Banking - Bristol - £400pd

£400 per hour: Orgtel: Technical Business Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £400pd...

Account Management Strategy Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum + competitive: Real Staffing: Required skills:Previo...

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice